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A-Frame is a remodeled IHOP - so easy to spot - located on the west end of Culver City's Washington Boulevard. (Not Washington Place!) The interior is primarily done in pine, the natural warmth of the wood accented by soft, recessed lighting. A bench runs along the walls and sleek, spare tables adjoin it. There is a simple bar area by the entrance as well.
Chef Choi may be a little preoccupied at the moment with his newest venture, Sunny Spot, but the kitchen at A-Frame seems to remain in top form under CdC Jude Parra-Sickels, formerly of David Chang's Momofuku Ssam Bar and Noodle Bar.
What I ate:
"C" and I shared the following items:
1. Furikake Kettle Corn (6 USD): Buttered Blazin' J's Hawaiian style. Furikake is a Japanese condiment which primarily consists of dried/ground fish, sesame seeds, nori, sugar, and salt. If I remember correctly, Roy Choi's version was slightly spicy. Though the kettle corn was tasty, it was the least impressive item that "C" and I ordered. Actually, I wished that the kettle corn was provided as a free table snack instead of something that you have to order: I don't think it really qualified as a menu item.
2. Double Cheeseburger (11 USD): Tomato confit, pickled red onions, butter lettuce, hot sauce, sharp cheddar, sesame mayo, buttered brioche bun. Chef Papi Chulo even sneaked in a leaf or two of ggaennip, or perilla, for that Korean touch! Biting into the burger, I was struck by its strong beefy flavor and a symphony of strong, spicy flavors from the meld of the tomato confit, pickled red onions, and hot sauce. Every component of the burger was top notch, including the rich and pillowy brioche bun. "C" and I agreed that we liked the burger. ("C" also remarked that the Double Cheeseburger reminded him of an Umami Burger, which he had recently tasted.)
3. Dyn-O-Mite (4 USD): Butter and sour cream twice baked duchesse potato with chives and parmesan crust. (Duchesse is a classic French preparation of potato that includes butter and egg yolks.) This item ranked a close second least impressive to the kettle corn. Like the kettle corn, the Dyn-O-Mite was tasty yet failed to appeal: it lacked a wow factor. The potato was also on the small side. In hindsight, I think "C" and I should have ordered one each instead of splitting the order.
4. Banana Bacon Cream Pie (7 USD): Vanilla cream, caramel bananas, bacon brittle. As much as I enjoy Roy Choi's food, I might be even more in love with Chef Beth Kellerhals' desserts. Overall, I liked the cream pie. (In fact, I think it was my favorite course of the night.) However, I also thought it wasn't properly balanced: the bacon tended to overpower the banana. For me, the first bite was the best: My mouth was full of the buttery and caramelized crust (LOVE Kellerhals' crusts), the banana pastry cream, and the permeating presence of bacon fat. As I continued to dig in, I discovered the wonderfully ripe caramel bananas pregnant with intense banana flavor. Now this is how bananas should taste!
Our female server with an enchanting accent (Russian? Eastern European?) was quite friendly and efficient (and attractive).
Parking: There is a small parking lot alongside the restaurant. "C" and I hit A-Frame at ten on Wednesday night, so we didn't have a problem parking. Waterloo & City is next door, so on weekends and during busy periods, it must be impossible to find parking, even on the surrounding streets.
The Bill: 30.45 USD. Thanks for dinner, "C".
My Rating: out of four stars (very good). Open Sunday through Thursday, 5 PM to 11 PM, Friday and Saturday, 5 PM to 12 AM, and Saturday and Sunday, 12 PM to 3 PM. No reservations needed. Credit cards accepted. www.aframela.com
Last Word: I wish Roy Choi would open a restaurant on the east side of town, closer to home. I so envy the Westside!
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